Whether you’re involved in a start up, have a small business, or play a role in the digital content of your company – read what Marielle Reussink of The EMMS has to say on planning a digital marketing strategy and what trends we can expect for 2020.
With a new year comes an opportunity to take stock of where we are today, look back at how we got here, and – the fun part – looking into the crystal ball. Each year, when I prepare our marketing strategy, I like to think about what trends will shape my industry. Looking ahead this year, I believe one will mark this new era. Digital content will become more intentional than ever before.
What does this mean? For brands, there will be a further shift away from trying to do everything, in favour of doing more with less. For consumers, there will be new opportunities to connect with brands in more authentic and personal ways, with an emphasis on quality over quantity.
Overall, the fundamentals of good marketing aren’t going to change. It’s all about knowing your objectives, understanding your audience and acting accordingly – with intention. Here are the key ways that I see this playing out:
The most fundamental piece of the puzzle for brands to get right is quality, purpose-driven digital content. If it doesn’t engage, educate or otherwise serve your audience in a meaningful way, does it really need to be posted? In 2020, the answer is a resounding no.
The heart of good content is authentic storytelling. This will mean investing more in high-quality content creation, and likely less in volume.Well thought out content should help drive your digital marketing strategy should revolve around strategic messaging pillars that are intentionally designed to provide value to consumers. People want to know what kind of business they’re supporting when they make a purchase. Plus, they care about where their products come from, so telling your backstory will be more important than ever before. Some big businesses have already got this right, and I hope to see more upstarts following suit.
Particularly for small businesses, personal branding will be a valuable tool for telling company stories and making connections, from human to human, not just from business to customer.
Blending Online and Offline Experiences
The addictive nature of social media has become increasingly hard to ignore. With a growing movement to reduce the potential harm of overusing social media, the impetus is on brands to stop feeding into the endless scroll with constant digital content, and instead find new ways to engage with audiences.
One promising avenue is to use digital networks to promote experiences that get people off screens and into the real world. Brands that succeed in seamlessly integrating online and offline could have a tangible advantage over those that continue to push exclusively digital content.
From industry meet-ups hosted by B2B businesses to interactive in-store events for retail brands, there is huge potential to make a more tangible, lasting impression on people in the offline world.
Investing in Education
One of the most common topics that I get asked about as a digital marketing consultant is how to get better at digital marketing. More and more people are looking for tools, courses and advice they can use to better understand how to use their channels effectively to grow their businesses.
In a world in which it’s increasingly difficult to compete for attention in the digital sphere, this is critical! The alternative? Not only will your time and resources be going down the drain, you could also risk losing favor with audiences that are increasingly intolerant of poor content and clunky execution.
Rather than just trying to figure things out along the way, companies should take the time to understand how to implement best practices and avoid common mistakes. However, a clear and intentional strategy is only a starting point… this needs to be continuously revisited based on learnings from experience, understanding your analytics, as well as the latest advice from trusted sources in the industry.
Strategic Channel Selection
A fundamental part of a sound digital marketing strategy is understanding which channels are most effective for connecting with your particular audience. This year, I believe more brands will recognise that it’s less important to be on every possible channel, and more important to be on those channels that you can actually execute well. The result will be a paring down of digital marketing channels, as brands pull away from platforms that don’t perform and double down on what’s actually working.
Google, Facebook and YouTube will continue to reign supreme, and rising stars like TikTok and podcasts will continue to grow. But don’t take that as an indication that you must pursue any or all of these! Instead, the key will be to focus on understanding your audience, where they hang out online and what stage of the marketing funnel you can reach them at on each channel they’re using.
The reality is that social media has become largely pay to play. And that’s not likely to change any time soon. The good news? The tools of the trade have become so sophisticated, it’s possible for brands to deeply understand their audience and serve them the right content, in the right place at the right time. This offers tremendous ROI potential if done right.
Organic will still have its place for brands, but paid will be a primary driver of strategy. Digital advertising insights will influence everything from channel selection to messaging to product development – all with an eye toward giving people what they want.
Facebook advertising has become so important, broader marketing strategies will be centred around it too. For instance, developing an email list offers a useful tool for building custom and lookalike audiences on Facebook, making email an increasingly valuable channel to support Facebook ads (and other channels with similar capabilities). On the flip side, experimenting with Facebook ads will allow brands to test which products are likely to hit the mark before investing in product development or other marketing tactics.
Advertising will become part of the tool kit for highly targeted intentional marketing.
To sum it up, my prediction (or perhaps my hope) is that people will become more at ease with picking their battles rather than trying to keep up with the constant content race and do everything under the digital sun. With so much awareness of the pitfalls of screen time and social media scrolling, it seems only reasonable that brands would head the signs of a backlash to create more genuine connections with their target customers.
Here’s to a year of more intentional marketing, more enjoyable content, and a more sustainable future for digital. Fingers crossed!
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